You'd be hard pressed to find a good restaurant wine list today, city or country, without a significant representation from Beaujolais. This is because it is an excellent source of supple, early drinking, food friendly reds with strong terroir character and they are available at reasonable prices.
We start our selection with the wines of Arnaud Aucoeur, an eleventh-generation vigneron based in Villié-Morgon in the centre of the Beaujolais hills. Showing a strong respect for tradition and terroir, Arnaud and his wife Melanie use a 'hands-off ' approach in both the vineyard and winery. 50-hectolitre wooden vats are used for the reds (95% of total production), which allow subtle micro-oxygenation without any overtly 'oaky' flavours.
Arnaud produces a tiny amount of a racy, green-apple-tinted Beaujolais blanc made from pure Chardonnay which we enthusiastically snap up when available. His Beaujolais 'Vieilles Vignes' rouge drinks well from release and shows a wealth of primary berry characters, croquante structure and fresh acidity - a great match for a charcuterie board. From the lauded volcanic hillside of the 'Côte du Py' vineyard, the Domaine Aucoeur Morgon has forest fruit compote, blood orange and Asian spice aromas with great depth and concentration on the palate – it is capable of standing up to grilled red meats and hard cheeses.
Notable for their world-class Crozes-Hermitage, the Graillot family acquired 4.5 hectares of vines in the north of Beaujolais in 2013. Under their Domaine de Fa label, three cuvées are bottled and as of the 2019 vintage, they are certified organic.
The wines have a distinctive style, showing subtlety and perfume with, as you may expect, a muscular Northern Rhône influence. Their Beaujolais 'En Besset' has forest-floor aromatics with a juicy palate of stewed soft red berries balanced by fine tannins and acidity. Accounting for more than half the total production, the domaine's Fleurie shows lifted violet, clove and red cherry aromas, supple berry fruit with impressive depth and intensity from the 45 year-old vines. Completing the trio is a magnificent, small production Saint-Amour – supremely elegant in style it will improve in bottle for a minimum of five years.